Lake Powell Captain: A Father’s Day Tribute

We were only 30 – 45 miles away from home when the thought hit him. He was too kind to voice it, but it must have sounded something like this: “What the [bleep] was I thinking inviting my daughter and her FOUR daughters to Lake Powell? My boat is not big enough for all this estrogen.”

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You might assume that my kids are solid, well-behaved little travelers. You would be right, mostly. As their mother, I have a tough job—one that I gratefully embrace. They are not easy to parent, but I’m hopeful they’ll become fine adults. Even John admits they save their worst behavior for me.

They would have done better with just grandpa, but I wasn’t about to pass on an invitation to Lake Powell with my adventure-seeking father. This is one of my favorite places, and I was going. No amount of high-pitched screaming, arguing, and elbowing would deter me. I confess I did want to chuck them in the lake a few times.

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Captain Dave has seen it all. He’s raised five boys and me. But it’s been nearly 25 years since he’s had so many children on the boat. He taught me how to waterski and gave me the genetic compulsion to jump off cliffs competitively with my brothers. He helped me learn the art of a good arm wrestle. With the exception of having the boys mow the lawn (thank you, Dad) and me change 98% of the diapers (excellent practice) I never felt like I was treated different from my many brothers. Except that maybe he loved me more, right guys?

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He willingly agreed to let me ski every time I asked. The weather was perfect, the lake high, and Last Chance Canyon was mirror-perfect glass. But what I loved most about this trip was watching him interact with my girls. He played countless rounds of Uno without complaint. He towed them endlessly, and loved watching them pop out of the water on skis. He found the perfect cliff for jumping—not too scary, but plenty exciting. He swam while towing my all-girl posse to Milk Jug Island—our makeshift buoy to warn other boaters of the sudden cliff just below the water’s surface. Then, after a daily six-inch water level increase (nearly three feet!) he showed them how to remove the jug to protect the lake. And he worked out all their extra energy and aggression on the Liquid Force Big Blast where even their famous girl-power grips failed.

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He teased them. (Not like he teased me—by putting my name and photo on “Missing Children” flyers and mailing them to close friends.) But he broke the tension when relationships were tense. Even three-year-old Mimi said, “You’re almost funny, Grandpa.” He gave them chores to help them learn. He made us laugh and feel loved. He put up with our plant-heavy menu. He sacrificed a lot of personal space for my strong-willed daughters and I suspect he loved every second of it. I’d go anywhere with you, CessnaDude. And someday (in thirty years or so) I will spread your ashes all over this beautiful lake and visit often.

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